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Pet Oxygen Masks
Community outreach effort saves lives of family pets

When Appleton, Wis., resident and Alderman Richard Thompson saw a photograph of a local firefighter giving mouth-to-snout resuscitation to a cat rescued from a house fire, he thought of his own pets.

“A pet is family,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to lose Maggie, my Collie, or Lucy, my Tabby cat, to a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning or Lord lord knows what else.”

Inspired by the photograph, Thompson initiated a program in which rescuers carry oxygen masks designed for animals.

And it was just like the animal-loving community to rush to the rescue. All of the money needed to pay for each $49  the masks  came from unsolicited donations, and mask sets were distributed to each of the six local fire stations and the Appleton Police Department K-9 unit. “It was something to see,” said Thompson. “There was no organized solicitation effort. People and community groups just read or heard about the program and stepped up to the plate.”

The cone-shaped masks, which, which come in sets of three sizes (sized for large canine, small canine and feline), were designed by Richard McCulloch and his crew at McCulloch Medical of New Zealand, which manufactures masks for veterinary use; they are distributed in the U.S. by SurgiVet. By and large, community campaigns such as the one in Appleton are responsible for the purchase and distribution of the masks to their local fire and rescue stations. In another example, the Wilmington Kennel Club, Inc., of Delaware just donated sets to fire stations in New Castle County and the City of Wilmington. They purchased the masks from HELP Animals, Inc., of Florida, a small nonprofit that has teamed up with SurgiVet to help spread this initiative. distributed to each of the six local fire stations and the Appleton Police Department K-9 unit.

And the movement is indeed growing; firefighters in more than 150 cities and towns nationwide are now equipped with pet masks, allowing pet “parents” to breathe a little easier.


This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 39: Nov/Dec 2006
Rachel Bonilla is a The Bark staff writer.

Photograph: SurgiVet/Smiths Medical MDPM

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Ines de Pablo | October 11 2009 |


October is many things but in the safety world October is also National Fire Safety Month.
We all want to be safe and keep our pets safe but what does that entail in October?
House fire occur, unfortunately too often. By now most people have heard of and own Alert Stickers to let the fire department know to rescue their pets in case of a residential Fire. Displaying these stickers is awesome however not enough. Once the firefighters get the pets out of the burning structure that will - just like us - have suffered from smoke inhalation. Extrication alone does not solve the problem. They need help respiratory assistance on scene! There is no question humans need it. Animals with lungs need it to!

"The number one cause of death related to fires is smoke inhalation. An estimated 50%-80% of fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation injuries rather than burns. Smoke inhalation occurs when you breathe in the products of combustion during a fire. Combustion results from the rapid breakdown of a substance by heat (more commonly called burning). Smoke is a mixture of heated particles and gases. It is impossible to predict the exact composition of smoke produced by a fire. The products being burned, the temperature of the fire, and the amount of oxygen available to the fire all make a difference in the type of smoke produced."
Source: eMedicineHealth.com

Did you know that more smoke inhalation kills more than 40,000 pets per year?

The dedication of firefighters is tremendously appreciated by all. Wag'N wants to make sure that their efforts are not met in vain. Pets rescued from fire need help. First responders nationwide need to have the right tools in their toolbox to save the pets they just risked their lives for. Pet Oxygen Masks are the tools that will accomplish that.

Wag'N Helps First Responders Year Round. But October needs a special wag. Temperatures go down, heaters are turned on & fire places come to life (in both cases most of us forget to have a chimneys cleaned and heaters serviced); deck fire places are fired up; we forget all about placing protective shields by the fire place; students return to school & college; Halloween and its candles and extra electrical equipment spark trouble; leaves get dry and outdoor fire risk increases.

Does your fire department carry pet oxygen masks? If not check out the Wag'N Options:
** Sponsor your fire department NOW
** First Responders can acquire their gear HERE
Order before 10/27 for prior to Halloween Delivery

The Wag'N Pet Oxygen Mask Kit includes all of the following:
Standard First Responders Order & Sponsor Orders - $85

1 Small Mask + oxygen tube
1 Medium Mask + oxygen tube
1 Large Mask + oxygen tube
1 Wag'N Pet Oxygen Mask Bag
1 ABCs Diagram For Cats & Dogs
1 Set of Instructions (flow rate details)
1 CPR Magnet for Cats & Dogs
1 Wag'N Leash. Pets left at home generally don't walk about with a leash in tow. So lets make leashes standard equipment for first responders now equipped to help them. The Wag'N leash can be used to normally restraint a pet and for an emergency muzzle. Standardizing pet safety common sense!


Submitted by Anonymous | July 14 2010 |

That picture is not a local Wisconsin picture, that's my driver at my station in Enid, Oklahoma

Submitted by Carol Martin | November 8 2010 |

Each of our flight crews carry a set of these masks when we work on private jets where pets are often clients. Virtually every aircraft accident involves fire and we don't know how the first responders will be equipped so we come prepared to help our pets on board. We also are ready to take care of them in the event of decompression. We have undertaken an initiative to have these as part of the standard equipment on all private jets since so many pets are traveling this way now. Time to think about all of our pawsengers. Ask for them on your next flight... Woof!

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